Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park - a leading project that promotes sustainability in the UAE

The UAE has taken early steps to bid farewell to the last barrel of oil, and achieve a balance between development and maintaining a clean, healthy, and safe environment.

The UAE Energy Strategy 2050 aims to achieve an energy mix that combines renewable and clean energy sources to balance economic requirements and environmental goals.

The UAE will invest AED 600 billion until 2050 to meet the growing energy demand and ensure the sustainable growth of economy.

The Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050

Dubai has become an international pioneer in developing the clean and renewable energy sector. It has developed a number of techniques and practices to enhance the efficiency of the energy sector while rationalising consumption and finding alternative solutions to conventional energy.

This supports the sustainable development of the Emirate. The Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, which was launched by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, aims to provide 7% of Dubai’s total power output from clean energy by 2020.

This target will increase to 25% by 2030 and 75% by 2050. Dubai is the only city in the region to have launched such a promising strategy, with set goals and timelines that map the future of energy until 2050.

The strategy consists of five main pillars: infrastructure, legislation, funding, building capacities and skills, and having an environment-friendly energy mix.

The infrastructure pillar includes initiatives such as the Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which is the largest single-site solar energy project in the world, with a planned total production capacity of 5,000 megawatts (MW) by 2030, and a total investment of AED 50 billion.

Dubai to be the city with the lowest carbon footprint in the world by 2050

“We are working to achieve the ambitious vision of our wise leadership within the framework of federal and local strategies, including the UAE Vision 2021, the UAE Centennial 2071, and Dubai Plan 2021. Our strategies and business plans are inspired by the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Rule of Dubai, for the Emirate to be the city with the lowest carbon footprint in the world by 2050. The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park is one of the key projects to achieve this vision. Since its launch, the solar park’s projects see considerable interest from international developers, reflecting the confidence of international investors in the projects that are supported by Dubai Government,” said HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer MD & CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA).

“We are proud that the solar park, which bears the name of an exceptional personality who is leading the sustainable development of Dubai, was recognised as one of the UAE Pioneers, an achievement that the late Sheikh Zayed bin Zayed Al Nahyan would have been proud of. Naming the solar park as one of the UAE Pioneers drives us to continue our efforts to achieve the vision and directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, which guides us in all our projects and initiatives and achieve the objectives of the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, which aims to produce 75% of Dubai’s total power output from clean energy by 2050,” added Al Tayer.

Announcing the solar park

In January 2012, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced the launch of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai.

1st Phase (13MW using photovoltaic solar panels)

The 13MW first phase became operational on 22 October 2013, comprising around 152,000 photovoltaic cells, connected to 13 transformers in inverter buildings.

The output is transformed to 33 kilovolts (kV), and generates nearly 28 million kilowatthours (kWh) of electricity annually. The first phase contributes to an annual reduction of about 15,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.

2nd Phase (200MW using photovoltaic solar panels)

On 20 March 2017, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum launched the 200MW photovoltaic second phase of the solar park, which is the largest and first project of its kind in the region, based on the IPP model.

DEWA implemented the project in partnership with a consortium led by ACWA Power from Saudi Arabia as the main developer, and Spain’s TSK as the main contractor, with an investment of AED 1.2 billion.

The efforts of Shuaa Energy 1, which was established by DEWA and the consortium led by ACWA Power and TSK, were vital in completing the work efficiently and professionally, with over 1.5 million Safe Man Hours without Lost Time Injury.

The 200MW second phase of the solar park will provide clean energy to 50,000 residences in the Emirate, reducing 214,000 tonnes of carbon emissions annually.

This phase installed 2.3 million photovoltaic solar panels over an area of 4.5 square kilometres. DEWA set a world record by obtaining the lowest price globally at USD 5.6 cents per kWh for the second phase of the park at the time of the tender.

Third Phase (800MW using photovoltaic solar panels)

In June 2016, DEWA announced the selection of the Masdar-led consortium as the best bidder to develop the 800 MW third phase of the solar park. DEWA also set a world record by obtaining the lowest price of USD 2.99 cents per kWh for the third phase of the park, based on the IPP model. The first 200 MW project became operational on 1 May 2018, with the second and third projects being implemented in stages until 2020.

To implement the project, DEWA established Shuaa Energy 2 in partnership with the Masdar-led consortium, and Électricité de France (EDF), through its subsidiary EDF Energies Nouvelles. DEWA owns 60% of the company, and the consortium owns the remaining 40%: Masdar owns 24%, and EDF Energies Nouvelles owns 16%. The international consortium led by the renewable energy contractors GranSolar and Acciona from Spain and Ghella from Italy are handling engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC).

“DEWA has adopted the IPP model to build the third phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. Since it was launched, the solar park has generated international interest from global business and energy companies, which reflects the trust and interest from international investors in large projects adopted by Dubai Government. This has been supported by the favourable existing regulatory and legislative frameworks in Dubai that enable public-private partnerships,” said Waleed Salman, Executive Vice President of Business Development and Excellence at DEWA.

“We congratulate DEWA and all our partners on completing the first stage of the largest expansion of the Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park undertaken to date,” said Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, CEO of Masdar, Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company.

“The on-schedule delivery of the first 200MW stage of the project has demonstrated the professionalism, teamwork and ability to execute at the highest level, of all those involved, in what will be the largest solar PV project of its kind in the MENA region on final completion. Masdar is proud to lead the world-class consortium delivering phase three of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which has set a new global standard for commercially competitive solar power. As we celebrate today’s important milestone, we are already looking forward to completing the second and third stages of this historic project as planned,” added Al Ramahi.

“True sustainability is based on the three pillars of economic, environmental and social sustainability. This principle inspires DEWA, Mubadala’s renewable energy company Masdar and all our partners in the MBR Solar Park and Shua’a Energy 2. Not only will phase three of the park offset millions of tonnes of carbon emissions each year and create thousands of local jobs, it is also demonstrating the attractiveness of renewable energy as an investment asset class, paving the way for further clean energy projects in the UAE and the region,” said Khaled Al Qubaisi, Chief Executive Officer of the Aerospace, Renewables and ICT platform of Mubadala Investment Company.

“The first project of the solar park’s third phase includes a first-of-its-kind station in the Middle East and North Africa that uses sun-tracking tilting panels, thereby maximising output with a production capacity of 200MW that provides clean energy to about 60,000 residences. The project uses 806,992 photovoltaic polycrystalline panels on a total area of 4.48 square kilometres. Nearly 1,700 workers spent 2.4 million safe work hours without injuries to implement the project,” said Jamal Al Hammadi, Vice President of Clean Energy & Diversification at DEWA.

Fourth Phase (950MW of CSP and PV)

On 16 September 2017, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum launched the fourth phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. It is the largest single-site Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) project in the world, based on the IPP model.

The project was awarded to a consortium comprising Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power, The Silk Road Fund, and China’s Shanghai Electric as the main contractor. The consortium bid the lowest Levelised Cost of Electricity (LCOE) of USD 7.3 cents per kWh.

On 3 November 2018, DEWA signed an amendment to the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) to add 250MW of photovoltaic solar panels, increasing the total capacity of the fourth phase from 700MW to 950MW.

The fourth phase will use three technologies to produce clean energy: 600MW from a parabolic basin complex, 100MW from a concentrated solar tower, and 250MW from photovoltaic panels.

Record numbers

The fourth phase of the solar park has achieved many world records. It will have the world’s tallest solar tower, at 260 metres, and the largest thermal energy storage capacity in the world of 15 hours, which allows for energy generation round the clock.

It also achieved the lowest Levelised Cost of Electricity (LCOE) of 2.4 US cents per kilowatt-hour (kW/h) for the 250MW photovoltaic solar panels technology and USD 7.3 cents per kW/h for the 700MW CSP technology, the lowest worldwide.

Fifth Phase (900MW using photovoltaic solar panels)

DEWA recently issued a Request for Qualification (RFQ) for developers to build and operate the fifth phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, with a capacity of 900MW.

The phase will use photovoltaic solar panels based on IPP model. It will be commissioned in stages starting from Q2 of 2021.

Triple-Bottom Line Sustainability

The solar park implements the triple-bottom line (TBL) related to sustainability in DEWA’s strategic map. These include the three key dimensions of sustainability: economic, environmental, and social. DEWA’s long-term priorities include:

Environmental: The solar park will contribute to enhancing the efficiency of using the natural resources and reducing the carbon footprint.

Social: The solar park supports DEWA’s commitment to governance, work ethics, and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). It also provides job opportunities to citizens and residents by 2020.

Economic: The solar park will play a role in improving the efficiency of costs and outcomes. It attracts investments, while supporting economic sustainable growth in Dubai and diversifying the local supply chain.

Dubai contributes to reducing solar energy cost globally

The UAE’s interest in producing renewable energy has contributed to a reduction in its global cost, according to a Japanese study published by the Nikkei Asian Review. DEWA’s major projects in cooperation with the private sector, based on the IPP model, contribute to the economic growth of the Emirate. Meeting the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 targets requires a capacity of 42,000MW of clean and renewable energy by 2050.

DEWA has attracted huge investments to the UAE from the private sector and foreign banks, resulting in increased cash flows to the economy of Dubai and the UAE. DEWA currently has more than 4,000MW of IPP projects completed and under implementation in partnership with the private sector, with investments of more than AED 30 billion.

The capacity of the solar power projects completed at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park is 413MW. DEWA has other projects under construction at a capacity of 1,550MW and is working on other projects to increase the solar park’s capacity to 5,000MW by 2030.

Companies established by DEWA and its private sector partners focus on employment and knowledge transfer to Emirati employees, thus directly benefiting the local community. DEWA has signed several agreements with local and international bodies, institutions, and companies in research and development to establish the latest developments in energy, water and environment.

These include agreements with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) of the US Department of Energy, the Spanish National Renewable Energy Center (CENER), Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), the United Arab Emirates University, and Khalifa University.

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